Scientists track gene parts controlling the embryo's early growth

Their new method could help interpret genetic signals sent from mother to embryo.

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David Lumb
December 28, 2016 7:02 AM
In this article: embryo, medicine, rna, science, yale
fredmantel / Getty Images
fredmantel / Getty Images

Techniques like CRISPR and even experimental methods like programmable bacteria can be used to edit genes, but knowing which genes to edit is crucial. Yale scientists have found a way to track the types of RNA that control embryonic development in living animals, which might lead to a greater understanding of the whole process.

The team tested their new method on zebrafish, an assay that lets them determine the function of signals activated after fertilization. Yale geneticist Antonio Giraldez, the senior author of the paper describing the team's findings in the journal Nature Methods, compared the RNA signal activators to individual words in life's instructional commands. Aside from interpreting genetic elements of messages sent from mother to embryo before it develops, the assay could also be used to identify the RNA parts that trigger cancer-causing genes.

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